On this page
- What is an alcoholic drink?
- Alcohol labelling requirements
- General labelling rules apply to alcohol
- Labelling rules based on alcohol concentration
- Extra labelling rules for New Zealand grape wine
- Labelling grape wine for export
- Using place names on wine and spirit labels
- Find out more
Labelling rules for alcoholic drinks usually apply to beer, cider, wine or wine product, liqueur, mead, perry, or spirits with more than 0.5% alcohol by volume.
Other rules apply to kombucha, ginger beer, and other brewed soft drinks with no more than 1.15% alcohol.
Follow our guide to help you label your alcoholic drinks.
All alcohol sold in New Zealand, including imported wine, must follow the labelling and composition rules in the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) code.
You need to understand and apply some of the general labelling standards in the code:
- Part 1.2 – labelling and other information requirements
- Part 2.7 – alcoholic beverages.
There are other specific standards for wine labelling and composition:
- Standards 2.7.3 and 2.7.4 – standards for fruit wine/wine product, vegetable wine/wine product, mead, and grape wine/wine product
- Standard 1.3.1 – food additives, which includes specific permissions for wine
- Standard 1.3.3 – processing aids.
Most of the general labelling rules for food and drinks also apply to alcoholic drinks.
Alcoholic drinks, and foods containing alcohol, have many of the same labelling requirements as regular food. However, some specified alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, spirits, and liqueurs don't require an ingredient list or nutrition information panel.
The exception is if a claim about nutrition information is made, such as "low carb" or "gluten-free", then more information is required on the label.
Labelling rules on alcoholic drinks vary depending on the concentration of alcohol in the beverage.
Drinks containing 0.5% or more alcohol by volume (ABV) must include information on the label about:
- the alcohol content, and
- a statement of the number of standard drinks (for example, a 750ml bottle of wine of 12.5% alcohol by volume would be labelled as "Contains approximately 7.4 standard drinks").
Drinks containing 1.15% ABV or less must list the alcohol content in words ("Contains not more than x% alcohol by volume").
Drinks containing more than 1.15% ABV must include the alcohol content as a percentage of ABV or ml/100 ml on the label. These cannot be represented as a low alcohol beverage.
All alcoholic beverages containing more than 0.5% ABV labelled after 1 August 2023 must also include a pregnancy warning label.
New pregnancy warning labels
By 2023, all alcoholic drinks containing more than 1.15% AVB must also include a pregnancy warning label.
Health and nutrition claims about alcohol
Food and drink with more than 1.15% alcohol by volume must not have health or nutrition claims on labels or in associated advertising.
- You may say how much energy, carbohydrate or gluten is in the drink.
- Foods, but not drinks, containing alcohol may make a claim about sodium levels.
- You may highlight the risks of drinking alcohol or recommend drinking alcohol only in moderation.
Low-alcohol drink labels
When labelling and advertising alcoholic drinks, you may say the drink is:
- low alcohol only if it has less than 1.15% alcohol by volume
- non-intoxicating (or similar words) only if it has less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.
If you sell New Zealand grape wine, you need to meet additional labelling requirements for:
- country of origin
- the 85% rule – for any labelling claims that relate to vintage, variety, and area of origin.
Country of origin on wine labels
Wine labels must include the country of origin. If you add grapes, juice, or wine from other countries, you must list all countries of origin.
If the wine includes imported wine in the blend, this must be indicated on the label. This is specified in the Wine Regulations 2021.
The "85% rule" for grape variety, vintage, and area of origin on wine labels
The rules for label statements about grape variety, vintage, and area of origin are collectively known as "the 85% rule". If a label states the wine is from a particular grape variety, vintage, or area, then at least 85% of that wine must be from that variety, vintage, or area.
The 85% rule applies to wine labelled for retail sale. It does not apply to wine sold in bulk.
What the 85% rule means
- If the label states that the wine is from a single grape variety, vintage, or area of origin, it must be at least 85% from that variety, vintage, or area. For example, a “2007” wine must contain at least 85% of vintage 2007 wine.
- If the label states the wine is a blend of grape varieties, vintages, or areas of origin, at least 85% of the blend must be from those varieties, vintages, or areas. For example, a “Chardonnay Chenin Blanc” must contain at least 85% from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc grapes.
- If the label says the wine is a combination of grape variety, vintage, and area of origin, the combination referred to must be at least 85% of that wine. For example, “2008 Marlborough Pinot Noir” must contain a minimum of 85% Pinot Noir from Marlborough that was harvested in 2008.
- Blend statements must be presented in descending order of proportion in the blend. For example, “Chardonnay Chenin Blanc” must contain more Chardonnay than Chenin Blanc in the blend.
- You cannot include a claim about grape variety, vintage, or area of origin if the wine contains a greater percentage of wine from another grape variety, vintage, or area not referred to on the label. For example, a wine that contains 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Pinotage, and 10% Merlot could be referred to as a “Cabernet Pinotage” or a “Cabernet Pinotage Merlot” but not a “Cabernet Merlot”.
- Export wine may make claims about grape variety, vintage, or area of origin that differ from New Zealand’s requirements when the overseas market access requirements (OMAR) have been notified under the Wine Act.
Yeasts (up to a maximum of 50ml/L) and brandy or other spirit used for fortification may be excluded from the calculations.
Find out more
Wines that don't have to follow the 85% rule
In some circumstances you do not have to comply with the 85% rule. See the next section titled "Labelling grape wine for export". There are some exceptions for wines sold in New Zealand:
- where the label does not have any statement about grape variety, vintage, or area of origin
- which were made in 2006 or earlier – this wine remains subject to the earlier 75% rule for grape variety
- imported wine only need to meet the 75% rules for the grape variety.
Food Regulations 2015 (LI 2015/310) (as at 01 July 2022) 155 Standards relating to labelling of imported wine – New Zealand Legislation
In general, the rules for label statements apply to grape wine made in New Zealand, regardless of whether it is sold in New Zealand or intended for export.
Export wine must meet any labelling requirements of the destination country. Some countries set different percentage requirements for label statements.
New Zealand Winegrowers provides an international wine labelling guide to its members in the members-only section of its website.
There are intellectual property rules if you use place names, known as Geographical Indications (GI), in wine and spirit labelling and advertising.
Before using a place name, check if it's registered in New Zealand.
If it is, you'll need to follow rules to use it.
If you use a place name when naming a spirit, the spirit must have been made in that place and have the characteristics of spirits from that place. For example, a drink called Scotch Whisky must be made in Scotland.
Update – 6 December 2022
Consultation on changes to New Zealand's registered geographical indications regime under the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is seeking feedback on changes to New Zealand’s registered geographical indications regime under the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006. This follows the recently negotiated Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the European Union. Changes to the GIs Act are required for New Zealand to meet its FTA obligations and before the FTA can be ratified. Submissions close on 28 February 2023.
Who to contact
If you have questions about labelling requirements of alcoholic drinks, email email@example.com